Few sports test courage, strength and finesse as completely as rock climbing. It is a difficult and ultimately solitary activity that combines the rigors of dance, weightlifting and chess--challenging the mind as much as muscle.
While the sport's popularity has grown in recent years, the number of Southland organizations able to teach it has decreased because of the difficulty of obtaining liability insurance. Many are banding together under the aegis of the American Mountain Guides Assn. in an effort to certify instructors, make mountain guiding safer and thereby stabilize premiums.
A national certification program will not be in place until 1989, so investigate the qualifications of Southland instructors before signing up. Write for a list of the association's members and guides from AMGA secretary Katherine Kemble, P.O. Box 699, Leavenworth, Wash. 98826.
Following is a list of 10 places that teach climbing:
Vertical Adventures, 511 S. Catalina Ave., Unit 3, Redondo Beach, Calif. 90277, (213) 540-6517. Bob Gaines and his staff run a full climbing program. After two weekends, Gaines said, a novice should feel comfortable leading a moderately difficult climb. Two-day courses take place every weekend from November through April at Joshua Tree National Monument, and May through October at Tahquitz Rock in Idyllwild. The $112 "rockcraft" seminar covers Basic rock climbing on Saturdays and Intermediate I climbing on Sundays. Two instructors teach five to 10 students. The $135 Intermediate II seminar covers anchor systems and techniques for multipitch climbing on Saturdays and the fundamentals of leading on Sundays. Most students camp free overnight at Joshua Tree. Others stay at a motel in Yucca Valley or Joshua Tree for about $30. The classes are also available individually: $58 for basic rock climbing, $69 for Intermediate II and $75 each for Intermediate III and IV. After the two seminars, Gaines sets up a program for students, telling them what equipment to buy, how to train, where to climb and with whom to climb. Guides also teach by appointment during the week at Stony Point in Chatsworth and Mt. Rubidoux and Big Rock in Riverside. The company has five full-time guides and also offers a four-day alpine seminar at Sawtooth Ridge in the Sierra Nevada and a three-day waterfall ice-climbing seminar in the winter for $289 and rock climbing tours in Great Britain, France and Switzerland.